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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Personal atrocities: Into The Numbers @finborough

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Into the Numbers is a haunting exploration into the mind of writer Iris Chang and her struggle with success and demons. Written by Christopher Chen, it’s having its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre . Iris Chang wrote a best selling book about the massacre of 300,000 civilians in Nanking at the hands of Japanese soldiers. The book, The Rape of Nanking , describes in graphic detail the way in which people were brutally murdered. Including an estimated 80,000 women and young girls were raped. Seven years later, Chang would kill herself at the age of 36, leaving a suicide note that was meticulously edited and rewritten. What’s fascinating about the piece is how Chen uses fragments from her personal and professional life to explain why this happened. In doing so, he not only explores the subject matter but also gets beneath the surface of mental illness. Opening as a lecture and an interview with Chang, the piece sets the scene and recounts facts from the book. But things begins